C Pam Zhang’s book

I just finished reading Zhang’s much praised debut novel How Much These Hills Is Gold. It is original, deep, cruel and lyrical. I wonder if she has a second book coming out soon.

I was disconcerted about some of the Mother’s dialogue in Chinese, without translation. A reader without knowledge of Chinese may miss something. I am mainly a Cantonese speaker with passable Mandarin. I read aloud the romanization of the dialogue and it turns out to be Mandarin. I understand that in that era right at the tail end of the gold rush, the Chinese who came to seek their fortune as prospectors were from south China, where the dialect is Cantonese (different versions according to which village they come from. ) I was surprised that she spoke Mandarin. Perhaps the Chinese did come over from provinces north of south China.

In her acknowledgement, she thanked the Vermont Studio Center where she developed or wrote this novel. I was at the studio for two weeks several years ago. The novel I was revising there is still in limbo. Maybe I’ll work on it again, but I have other projects on going. An author has to learn when to stop a project at some point.

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